CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice joined Cabell County Delegate Daniel Linville today for a ceremony to celebrate the re-activation of the West Virginia Employee Suggestion Award Board (ESAB) and to award a combined total of more than $4,400 to a pair of West Virginia public employees whose suggestions for streamlining work processes in their respective offices resulted in significant cost-savings to the State.
The ESAB incentivizes State employees to make suggestions about ways their offices could be working more efficiently, with the goal of cutting back on unnecessary costs. If an employee’s suggestion is adopted and implemented, they will receive a portion of the amount saved in return.
“It basically says to everyone in government, if you come up with an idea that’s going to save money and that the board approves, we’re going to reward you for that,” Gov. Justice said. “This is something here that could genuinely save the State of West Virginia lots and lots of dollars.”
The board, which was originally established in 1981, had been dormant for more than half-a-decade, until Del. Linville recently spearheaded an effort to revive the ESAB. He now serves as the board’s chair.
“We’re going to save hundreds of thousands of dollars for the State of West Virginia, we’re going to do this all without cutting a single service, and it’s going to result in savings for the taxpayers,” Del. Linville said. “That’s what we’re talking about when we are talk about good government.”
During Monday’s event at the State Capitol in Charleston, Gov. Justice and Del. Linville presented a ceremonial check totaling $2,607.18 to Judy Lupson, who works at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s headquarters in the Kanawha City area of Charleston, for her suggestion of streamlining the process for the State to collect septic tank groundwater protection fees from applicants for on-site sewage disposal systems.
Prior to the change, county health offices would gather the applicant’s information and forward it to the Department of Health and Human Resources. The DHHR would then send the information to Lupson’s office with the DEP, which would send an invoice to the applicant. Lupson noted that the applicants, who had only dealt directly with the county health offices, were reluctant to pay the DEP’s invoices.
Lupson’s approved suggestion was that the county health offices should collect the fees from the applicant up front. From there, the DEP would bill the health agencies for half of the fee amount, eliminating the need to deal directly with the applicant and minimizing the number of steps in the process.
The new method resulted in savings of more than $13,000 in just its first year of being implemented.
“I’ve always said, in business, if you talk to the people on the ground level, they’ll tell you things about what’s going on to make things better,” Gov. Justice said. “That’s exactly what this is. This board and Delegate Linville are making a difference.”
For all adopted suggestions, the maximum cash award is limited to 20 percent of the first year’s estimated savings, as established by the head of the affected spending unit, or $16,000, whichever is less.
Employee suggestion awards are available to public employees across all agencies of State government, with certain exceptions as outlined in W.Va. Code §5A-1A-1, et seq.
“The thing I want to tell all members of State government is that we are going to keep doing this,” Del. Linville said. “If you’ve got a good idea – we’ve put a bounty on it – I want to cut you a check, we want to come back and recognize you.”
Lupson is one of two State employees who have received awards for their suggestions since the ESAB’s re-activation.
LoriJan Woodward, who works with the DHHR’s Board of Review in Martinsburg, was awarded $1,831.03 for suggesting that her office should implement and utilize videoconferencing equipment for their hearings.
Prior to this change, all Board of Review Hearing Officers had to physically travel to hearings in the 29 counties that did not use videoconferencing technology.
The new method resulted in savings of more than $9,100 in just its first year of being implemented.
“What this board has done over the past two or three months has been to save the State the amount that a State legislator makes every single year,” Del. Linville said. “And we’re not done. We’re going to keep meeting, we’re going to keep doing this.”